Kigali-based tycoon François Xavier Mironko on Wednesday, February 22, started a three-month jail term following a decision by the Supreme Court. A five-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Faustin Nteziryayo sent the renowned businessman to prison for contempt of court, both in writing and during hearing. The high-profile panel of judges handed him a two-year sentence but ruled that he will serve three months in custody, while 21 months will be suspended owing to the fact this was the first time he had committed the offence. Court ordered for his immediate arrest. The judges determined that Mironko committed the offence of contempt of court through a letter he sent to the Chief Justice dated January 26, 2023 and the comments he made during subsequent proceedings on Wednesday, February 22, in which he accused the bench of bias. This, the judges said in their three-page ruling, was in addition to the businessman’s refusal to adhere to an earlier order by the court to use an expert in his case. Mironko, the owner of the Gikondo-based Mironko Plastics Industries which makes plastic materials, had been locked in a legal dispute related to commercial interests. The panel of judges also included Immaculée Nyirinkwaya, Alphonse Hitiyaremye, Richard Muhumuza and Aimé Muyoboke Karimunda. Doesn’t this incrimination for contempt of court part of a series of persecutions and threats conceived by the regime to punish the tycoon who has been resisting against its orders? What are factors underlying this privation of freedom? The present article highlights the various reasons that motivate the crisis opposing the Rwandan State and Mironko François-Xavier.
Facts among others
A court action in which industrialist Mironko François Xavier has been seeking back payment owed to him by the government of Rwanda, may have finally come to an end. Mironko is a known brand name in Rwanda, owing to his plastics factory. He is the first Rwandan to start and own some factory decades ago. As a back and forth controversy over the plight of his plastics factory remains unresolved, Mironko’s woes appear to be getting from worse to worst.The first instance division of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has dismissed Mironko’s case in a decision rendered April 6, 2022.Mironko had sought intervention of the regional court to compel the government of Rwanda to pay him 47,9900,000 Belgian Francs for Arms delivered in 1993 and 1994.At the time Belgium was still using Francs, but currently uses the Euro. Exchanged into US dollars from that period, the value is about USD 12.5m. At current value, the amount is much bigger.The reason Mironko went to EACJ is because he had exhausted Rwanda’s judiciary up to the Supreme Court. All the instances dismissed his case, with the highest court in Rwanda making its final decision on April 6, 2017.Mironko also petitioned the Ombudsman seeking for a judicial review of Supreme Court’s decision, to no avail. The Ombudsman declined to get involved.Mironko’s case is that sometime in 1993 and 1994, the government of Rwanda gave two companies a tender to supply it arms. The companies were: International Industries SA based in Belgium and Mironko EURAFRIC SPRL based in Luxembourg. Both companies were represented by Mironko himself.According to court documents, Mironko claims that due to the “confidential character, the urgency of the tender and from exception circumstances that the country was crossing (SIC), the tender was awarded on mutual agreement between both parties as provided by law”.What this essentially means is that Mironko was single sourced by the government of President Juvenal Habyarimana and probably the interim government, to supply the arms. It could also suggest that no documents were signed, and all transactions were verbal.Obviously these arms were used by the government to battle Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army rebels of current President Paul Kagame. The same arms were used by the army to carry out the genocide against Tutsis, which the rebels fought to end. It is therefore ironic that Mironko expects the successive government to pay for those arms.Court documents show that Mironko was paid much of money back then, but there remained a balance of 7,100,000 Belgian Francs (or about $184,000 from the exchange rate of that period).In its defense, the government of Rwanda through the Justice Minister and Attorney General, argued that the case was time barred and that Mironko could not prove beyond doubt that indeed he had a such a tender from the state of Rwanda.As par the exchange rate today, the amount Mironko claims to be owed by the state of Rwanda, is in the billions of Francs. Had the court’s ruled otherwise, the Rwandan taxpayer would have had to foot the bill for arms procured to kill the very Rwandans.Mironko can appeal to the EACJ appeals chamber if he indeed wants to recover his money whatever the circumstances.
Injustices as reprisals
Industrialist Mironko Francois Xavier is fed up, at least going by his unusual public outburst – alleging a plot involving government agencies to destroy him. For starters, Mironko is a well-known household name in Rwanda. He owns Mironko Plastics Industries, maker of most of the plastic materials used all over Rwanda, and beyond. He is the first Rwandan to start a manufacturing plant decades ago. However, since the early 2000, his troubles have not seized. The same plastics factory was closed for a month in June 2009, over what Kigali authorities said was failure to renovate the facility. Last week, power provider REG announced on Twitter that it had found the Mironko factory in Kigali was stealing power. The utility posted photos of the factory’s electrical connections, where the power theft was allegedly being done. Mironko Jean Pierre, son of the industrialist, and managing the recurrent operations of the plastics factories, was arrested. Subsequent reports said his file had been submitted to Prosecution, and was awaiting trial.The father, usually a reclusive businessman, has opted to go public about what he calls a “long-standing plot” (akagambane kamaze igihe) to destroy him. The decision to choose a foreign media is perhaps evidence enough he is crying out for help from the outside, convinced it was not possible from the inside. He narrated his ordeal to Kinyarwanda broadcaster of the Voice of America (VOA). He revealed that the factory where REG claims power was being stolen, had actually been already closed long ago by the authorities.“How can the factory steal power yet it was closed,” he said.Referring to REG as “terrorists”, Mironko says following arrest of his son, was told by the power utility that he had to pay Rwf 10m fine and the son would immediately be released.He said: “I rushed immediately and paid the money. My receipts were stamped by REG. But then I was told my son’s file had been sent to prosecution. You can see that the issue is not stolen power, it is a long-standing plot.”“My name, which I worked very hard to build, has turned into a play Toy. I receive phone calls from all kinds of people, who intimidate me.”“In custody, my son is being tormented and told ‘we will show you‘. They have been harassing us for a long time. There is a Kinyarwanda proverb; ukubita umugabo kera ukamumara ubwoba (a man’s fear goes away the more you beat him).”“Even if am old, I won’t accept this injustice. There are laws. I have worked for this country, and will continue. What I’m experiencing is utter disrespect.” As for allegations by power utility REG that Mironko factories in Kigali were stealing power, the elderly Mironko said that days before arrest of his son, people came repeatedly entering and taking photos without the presence of owners. “It is as if REG had taken over my factory. Imagine that level of injustice. Actually, it is beyond injustice, they are treating me with contempt.”
The real factors of the persecution
MIRONKO François-Xavier is encountering a series of persecutions because of his vast real estates. Indeed, the latter possesses a whole district in GIKONDO where his plastics factory is installed, the residences of the staff and a stadium called MIROPLAST. He also has a space between KTC; CHEZ RUBANGURA; Kigali TOWER and centenary house that the Tri-Star of RPF has always requested to erect his buildings there but that the great tycoon jealously guards and demands that we show him the plans so that he too can build his buildings there because he does not lack money for that. Buildings that house garages and supply stores in Rwandex; CIMERWA stores in Zinia where its SIRWA Color paint factory has been operating.
Conclusion: Mironko, the last rebellious businessman resisting the regime
To conclude, after RWIGARA Assinapol, SISI Evariste, Tribert RUJUGIRO and Valens KAJEGUHAKWA, MAJYAMBERE Silas, MIKO Rwayitare, the tycoon MIRONKO is standing firm and rejecting the fact that the FPR is interfering in his business and property. In these cases, and the threats that are being made against him are aimed at warning him about troubles expecting him as long as he resists the regime refusing to release what he is forcibly asked to give. There are reliable sources that testify that unknown people have been often calling him on the phone warning him to be careful to agree otherwise he will face great danger if he continues to be stubborn and does not agree with the country’s leaders.